Port Authority Highlights Air Service to Wenatchee
With the number of daily flights to Pangborn Memorial Airport reduced to one, the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is stressing the importance of commercial service in the Wenatchee Valley.
The Regional Port's Director of Airports Trent Moyers offered testimony before the U-S Senate on how the loss of air service since the pandemic has impacted the ability of local residents to reach their destinations.
"In the Wenatchee Valley, 850 people drive every day to an airport other than Pangborn because connectivity from Wenatchee is limited. A single flight per day to Seattle means only 76 people can directly access their transportation to or from Wenatchee without spending three hours driving."
Commercial air service began in Wenatchee in 1945. Three years ago 64,000 passengers departed from Pangborn. That number dropped to 27,000 in 2020 and rose to 35,000 in 2021.
Moyers says the post-pandemic recovery of air service continues to challenge small airports across the country, not just Pangborn.
"Today 76% of airports have less air service than before the pandemic. 14 U-S airports have lost all commercial air service and 53 airports like ours have lost over half of their flights." Moyers said.
And with 80% of economic development occurring within 10 miles of an airport, Moyer notes considerable growth happening just one mile from Pangborn.
"Microsoft's completed construction of the first of six 40,000 square foot data centers that's created 50 full time jobs." Moyers added.
At last week's Senate hearing, Senator Maria Cantwell echoed the economic benefits of commercial air service with the arrival of Microsoft in East Wenatchee.
“This a $400 million investment that would not be possible without the airport connection to the larger Washington economy. So we have to have our communities like Wenatchee thrive. And for Wenatchee to thrive, they need good air transportation connectivity.” Cantwell said.
Moyers highlighted steps Congress could take to support air service to small and rural communities, including providing greater flexibility for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program and increasing the share of funding the federal government contributes to airport infrastructure improvement projects.
Pangborn Memorial Airport